Amazon Wants a Piece of That Android Pie

Amazon Wants a Piece of That Android Pie

Sep 30, 2010

It seems another big player is going to try and take advantage of the surging Android economy. Amazon.com, one of America’s largest online retailers, just can’t resist the open cookie jar. Rumors have been flying around about Amazon prepping to launch its own Android App store along with a possible Amazon tablet equipped with the Android operating system.

These moves by Amazon aren’t really surprising. They have a trusted name and a huge customer list. Why wouldn’t they take advantage of Google’s openness policy to deepen their own pockets (they aren’t alone: see Verizon). It seems the Amazon Android App store rumor is leaning more towards truth thanks to a leaked Amazon App Store Distribution Agreement that landed in SlashGear’s inbox.

This Distributions Agreement lays out the Terms and Conditions participating developers will have to deal with if they wish to have their apps sold in the Amazon Market. From what I’ve read these T&C are not very developer friendly. Some things to note: Developers are expected to pay a $99 dollar annual fee to participate in said program. All participating apps must come complete with Amazon’s DRM only. Developer must also update their apps in the Amazon store at the same time as they update said apps in any other stores. Amazon reserves the right to set prices, refund policies, and can also changed terms or pull apps at anytime for any reason. Sounds enticing doesn’t it? Click [HERE] if you wish to read the full Agreement.

I still can’t decide if all this market fragmentation is a good thing or bad thing? As long as the Android Market comes stock on all Android devices I don’t really see the need for developers to go through all the trouble. Do we really need 10 different ways to buy the same app?

Source: SlashGear

Additional Countries to Receive Android Paid App Support [Update 9-30-2010]

Additional Countries to Receive Android Paid App Support [Update 9-30-2010]

Sep 29, 2010

Update 09/30/2010: It seems they have officially announced the list of countries added plus more to come. Check out this excerpt:

Source: Android Developers Blog

More Countries, More sellers, More buyers

Posted by Tim Bray on 30 September 2010 at 12:50 PM

[This post is by Eric Chu, Android Developer Ecosystem. — Tim Bray]

Support for paid application sales is now expanded to developers in 29 countries, with today’s additions of Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan.

In addition, Android Market users from 32 countries will be able to buy apps, with the addition of Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, and Taiwan.

About a week ago Google sent out a letter to developers to inform them that additional countries would be receiving paid app support. This was happy-happy-joy-joy news for developers. More countries means more business which means more apps. This sounds like great news for everybody. So what countries will be getting this support? Google didn’t say, but it turns out app store analytics company Distimo has noticed paid apps making their way into the Android Markets of previously unsupported countries.

While this is still not concrete proof, it’s good enough for me to believe. Here are some of the newly added countries that were identified by Distimo: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Finland, Hong Kong, Israel, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Singapore and South Africa. That’s 13 additional countries on top of the 14 already supported. That almost doubles the total amount of supported countries. This is a huge step forward for the Android Market and for Android app developers.

I have a feeling we will get the official list in a couple of days so stay tuned for more info and added countries. This is exciting news for developers. Below you will find the email Google sent to developers about a week ago.

Hello,

We’re writing to inform you about some changes to Android Market that require your attention.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be adding paid apps support for additional countries. If you have selected to publish your paid apps to all locations and intend to support all new locations as we expand the number of supported countries for paid apps, you don’t have to do anything. If you have selected to publish your paid apps to all locations but intend to only target the currently supported 14 countries, please update your location selections to target these specific countries.

Please look for follow-up emails when we introduce paid apps support for specific additional countries in the coming weeks. At that time, you’ll have the option to target these specific countries.

Thanks, and we look forward to continue working with you on Android
Market.

Sincerely,
The Android Market Team

Source: TechCrunch

WordWise Pro Review With Updated Cross Platform Play

WordWise Pro Review With Updated Cross Platform Play

Sep 28, 2010


WordWise for Android is a casual two player word game resembling that grand daddy of word games known as Scrabble. Mobile multiplayer turn-based word games have been growing in popularity ever since the smash hit “Words With Friends” was released on Apple’s iOS platform. Words With Friends has yet to port over to Android but that hasn’t stopped developers from riding the gravy train.

While each of the games from this genre offer their own experience, WordWise has managed to do what its competitors have failed to do: offer cross platform play. This recent breakthrough is bound to spark curiosity and so, without further ado, I present WordWise.

EVO 4G Update Does In Fact Remove Framerate Cap

EVO 4G Update Does In Fact Remove Framerate Cap

Sep 28, 2010

A few days ago Sprint released its latest firmware update 3.29.65.5 for the EVO 4G to take care of a few pesky bugs. In all, a total of 4 issues were to be resolved (Calender Edit Event, Multiple Gmail Sync, 30 FPS cap, GPS Reboot). Interestingly enough Sprint only decided to mention 2 of them (perhaps to avoid unwanted questioning). One of the unmentioned issues was that of the 30 FPS cap. Originally the story floating around was that the frame rate cap was software imposed due to Evo’s hardware support of HDMI-out and could not be rectified through software updates (even though hackers proved differently). Naturally this left the Evo community speculating about whether or not the recent update could indeed undo the cap. Guess what? It did!

The guys over at Engadget have confirmed that the cap has indeed been lifted and now the Evo is uncontrollably gushing streams of FPS into the Gulf of Gaming Graphics. Great news for EVO owners who have had to endure ridicule over the FPS debacle. What now? Time to take those once chained EVO’s and smack all the non-believers in the face with some 4G fury.

Users claim it, benchmarks prove it and screenshots solidify it. Now stop procrastinating and go to Settings > System updates > HTC software update and feel the FPS freedom.

Source: Engadget

Droid X Gets Froyo – Officially!

Droid X Gets Froyo – Officially!

Sep 24, 2010

Own a Droid X? Been waiting for Froyo? Not anymore! The Official 2.2 Froyo update for the Droid X started hitting phones early this morning and can be found by going to Settings>About phone>Check for updates. If you’re not sure what the heck we’re talking about, Froyo is the codename for the new Android OS 2.2.

Now all you have to do is hit install and start jumping up and down giddy with excitement. Flash, the new Gmail, and all the goodies of Froyo are now in the belly of that 4.3″ beast.

What’s new with Froyo you ask? It seems Verizon has provided us with a Droid X sized poster listing some of the new features and experience you will be getting once you update your Droid X to Froyo 2.2. Check it out.

So, what are you waiting for! Stop reading this and go get yourself some delicious Frozen Yogurt.

What about Root?
What about Root users? No worries, darkonion over at XDA forums and the Droid2 Rooting method have you covered. Not sure what Root access is? Then you should check out the excellent article written by the amazing guys over at Android Central on the hows, whys, and possible why nots of Rooting [HERE]. Everyone else can read ahead for instructions on how to root your Droid X 2.2 as posted by darkonion on the XDA forums and as always proceed at your own risk.

Sources: Verizon, Android Central, darkonion on the XDA forums

PhoneMyPC

PhoneMyPC

Sep 24, 2010

Remote desktop is one feature that’s been around forever but never seems to break into the realm mass adoption. And with laptops and now tablets becoming more and more portable, needing to log in to your home computer (if you even have one) seems less and less relevant. But why worry when apps like PhoneMyPC are still plugging away at the age old remote desktop question. And hey, they do a pretty darn good job at a simple, seamless way to log on to any Windows PC with an internet connection.

Setup
The most dreary aspect of remote desktop is always the setup (and those who have edited port forwarding on their router config now what I’m talkin’ about). PhoneMyPC, however makes it completely pain free. Just download their desktop app (Windows only) and install. Then just type in a user name and password you want to use, download the Android app from the Market and use that same login to see your PC. Whichever PC’s you have used with said login name automatically appear in the app, and you are one tap away from remote control heaven. This simple process differs from other apps on the Market that just interface with Windows’ built-in remote desktop client.

More Than One Way to Party
Once you log in to your computer you get a list of fun stuff to do. Besides the normal “control my PC from afar” mode of operation, PhoneMyPC offers some interesting and possibly extremely useful features. The first on the list is remote mouse and keyboard control. This lets you use your phone’s touch screen as a touch pad. I found the tracking very accurate. Tap to click, long tap to right click and click your joystick to drag. Not only that but you can pull up your virtual or hard keyboard and get typing. I could see this being really useful for a media center PC. Your phone is now a great couch remote and input device.

The other extra features that seem more like icing than real meat. For example: “snapshot” and “live” view, are like “read-only” views. Maybe if you want to spy on your kids this could be useful.

Other features like “execute actions” which lets you run programs with command functions, and also an emulation of windows task manager appeal to the advanced user set.

Interact with your PC
So, how does PhoneMyPC perform at its most important task? Admirably well. You get an overview of your desktop that you can pinch to zoom in to. Just tap anywhere for a mouse click (much like the mouse control view). The joystick on my Incredible acted like a mouse pointer however and middle button provided a click as expected. Dragging was not so easy, however, as long taps trigger right clicks. One is supposed to be able to drag by pressing the trackball button, but I couldn’t figure it out.

The response time was quite respectable, even over 3g. The screen redraws are sometimes sluggish, but you can change the display quality setting from low to high with 5 gradients to balance the bandwidth. I found the medium quality display was both readable and snappy.

For a real life test I decided to attempt to email my self a document and see how frustrating it would (or wouldn’t) be. So, I logged in and went down to the task bar in search of the file explorer. After I found it, I zoomed in to tap on my documents folder. It only took one tap and I was in. Once I found my file I long-tapped to open the context menu. No problems so far. Then I found the ‘send to email’ item and up popped Thunderbird . I had to zoom out to find the section of the screen it was in. Now, entering my address was the only place I messed up. The typing with the virtual keyboard was a bit laggy, and I accidentally tapped my friends name instead of my own. This was quickly corrected and before I knew it, the file was on its way and landing in the inbox on my phone.

Not bad if I do say so myself. It’s great if you leave your computer at home and want quick access to files. Don’t expect to be able to watch videos from your computer on your phone of course, but controlling your PC is no problem. There is one big quirk to this app: if your screen times out, the app completely closes. That means you will have to completely relaunch it any time your screen turns off. Strange but true.

So there you have it. While remote desktop may only be essential for IT administrators, it can be very useful for a sizable subset of users. For a simple and fun solution, PhoneMyPC will definitely have you covered.

T-Mobile Now Accepting Pre-Orders for G2

T-Mobile Now Accepting Pre-Orders for G2

Sep 24, 2010

If you’re an existing T-Mobile customer and looking to get your hands on the sexy successor to the G1 (Father to the Android Revolution) then head over to T-Mobile’s website where pre-orders are now available. Make sure to pre-order your phone by October 4th if you want the October 6th delivery date.

The 2-Year contract price will be $249.99 with a $50 mail in rebate and full retail cost will be $499. You can also try your luck at Best Buy (also selling the G2 on October 6th) with a contract price of $249.99 with the added value of a $50 instant rebate. Prepare for possible disappointment if you try the in-store route, for supplies are sure to be limited.

The G2 will be the first smartphone to deliver T-Mobile’s highly anticipated Super-Fast HSPA+ Network capable of delivering 4G speeds. The G2 will come equipped with Android 2.2, a 3.7″ touchscreen, a full QWERTY keyboard and will be powered by a Qualcomm MSM 7230 “Snapdragon” processor at 800MHz. It is pure Vanilla Android at its best and will feature a plethora of Google goodness fully equipped with dedicated Quick Key access. Add with that a 5-megapixel camera, 720p video recording, Swype along with Sprint’s free kids until 2012 family packages and you may just have enough reasons to upgrade or switch over to the Sprint network.

We want to know, how will the G2 compare to its competitors and will you be picking one up? What do you think?

Source: T-Mobile

Extended Controls

Extended Controls

Sep 23, 2010

A favorite past time of any Android user is tweaking one’s home screen to utmost perfection. And unlike our iPhone loving friends, we can actually do something besides just rearrange our apps and put them in folders. On tap for your home customization fix today is a super duper fantastic widget with an incredibly creative name: Extended Controls. What does it do, you ask? Why, it extends the power control widget that comes on Android with some awesome features. And it’ll only cost you 79 Euro cents!

You may remember my previous review of a similar widget app, SwitchPro Widget. Extended Controls is very similar. It mimics the style of the original power control widget and gives you tons of customizable options. You can change the icon style, background transparency, and even the shape and color of the indicator.

Extended control gives you a myriad of toggles to add to your home screen. Some of my favorite are the toggle for sd card mount and torch (flashlight for those on the west side of the Atlantic). Like SwitchPro Widget, you can set your widget size from 1 to 4 spaces wide. But Extended Control lets you cram as many toggles as you want on there. If you see the screen shot below you can abserve the rather ridiculous possibilities this option affords you.

My hands down, favorite feature of Extended Control is the ability to edit widgets after you place them on your home screen. Just run the app in your app list and it will give you a list of widgets and you can go in and tweak them to your pleasure. Not only that, but you can enable a modify button the widget itself for easy editing.

Users seem to reporting some bugs at present, like the APN toggle not working. However, I had no trouble getting it to work on my HTC Incredible after I switched the setting to have it control the mobile network directly.

I think we can all agree the the stock power control widget leaves much to be desired. So it is imperative for any self respecting Androider to get a souped up control widget like Extended Control. So is this the best one out there? That’s not so easy to say. I advise all to check it out, try it, and see if you like it. Either way you’ll certainly find it worth your .79 Euro.

Gmail App Gets Updated – Froyo Only

Gmail App Gets Updated – Froyo Only

Sep 23, 2010

Update 9/21/10 12:13pm Pacific time: There is a known issue with important actions not sticking to the top of the screen on HTC phones running Anrdoid 2.2, like the EVO 4G and the Droid Incredible

Android’s Gmail app has finally cut the system’s cord, allowing for users to receive quicker updates and avoid those long-dreaded system updates. To celebrate its recent freedom, the new Gmail app (available now in the Android market) shows off its nice shiny features. Let’s take a look and see what’s new.

The first thing you should notice is the new header design which makes it much easier to reply to or star messages. The best part about the header is that no matter how much you scroll it remains accessible at all times by remaining at the top. The reply button action can also be set to default as “reply” or “reply all” within the settings menu.

Next up is my personal favorite improvement to the Gmail app. Finally, like on the desktop, you can “show” or “hide” quoted text, making it easy to view previous messages. Thank you Google!

You should also notice the increase of speed to certain features and if you have enabled Priority Inbox for the desktop you will now have an “Important” label and an option to add a shortcut on your home screen.

All in all some great new features and if I know Google there will be more to come. So if you’re a Froyo user and want to take advantage of these new features, head on over to the Android Market and download the updated Gmail app for free.

Source: Google

Bitbop Available for Android

Bitbop Available for Android

Sep 23, 2010

Bitbop seems to have a leg up on rival Hulu when it comes to the Android Market. Bitbop provides streaming mobile video to a number of devices, and has recently announced its support for Android. The app is now available (for certain devices) and can be downloaded directly from their website (you will not find it in the Android Market so don’t even bother looking). Right now they are offering a free trial of up to 3 shows over a 7 day period. After the 7 days you will be charged the subscription price of $9.99, which is comparable to Hulu plus.

Some key features to consider are Bitbops ability to offer full length tv shows (movies to be available soon on a pay-per-view basis) without the commercials and they also offer the option to download for later viewing which has yet to be offered by Hulu. The services works over 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi but the obvious advantage to everyone out there reading this is the fact that it is available for Android. While their library of content is below that of Hulu’s they do offer some exclusive content not yet available to Hulu. As for viewing quality, I would say it was fair (I was viewing on my Motorla Droid) and did an acceptable job of automatically optimizing video quality.

Taking into consideration the fact that Hulu (currently only available for some i-devices) has yet to support an Android app and other major players such as Netflix have yet to even release an app makes Bitbop pioneers of their market. This early multiple device support may be enough for them to gain enough subscribers to further their viability.

For those of you who can’t wait, go sign up for the free trial and see if it’s for you. Personally I use my trusty slingbox/slingplayer combo to watch live tv & on demand content whenever I want so this doesn’t really appeal to me. This also holds keeps me busy until Netflix releases an app which hopefully will allow me to integrate my subscription into mobile viewing. With Blockbuster mobile content, Netflix coming, and Hulu sure to offer support for additional platforms I can’t help but think Bitbop needs a few more tricks up their sleeves to be competitive. With that said, kudos to you Bitbop for supporting us Android users quicker than the rest and for also allowing for added choice. A collective thanks and good luck.

Source: VentureBeat

Gentle Alarm

Gentle Alarm

Sep 22, 2010

Gentle Alarm, the top rated paid alarm app in the Android Market, boasts a ton of features and snazzy graphics. It also claims to be able to wake you during light sleep, which lends to its “gentle” moniker. Obviously, I can’t verify this claim in my review—a peer review study would be more suitable for that. I can say, however, that it’s a fabulous alarm app. And while it is indeed “gentle,” its touted special features don’t really live up to the hype.

Since Gentle Alarm has so many features, I’ll give a rundown (pun intended) of what it has to offer.

Main Screen
When you open up Gentle Alarm, you may mistake it for your home screen (I’ve accidently swiped at it); your wallpaper is prominently displayed with the current time and date and the next active alarm. You can tap the next alarm for a context menu that gives you many related options. Up top is a bar with a power button that turns on and off all the alarms, along with four big menu buttons: “Quick Alarm,” “Alarms,” “Profiles,” and “Night Display.”

Setting Alarms
The bulk of the settings in each alarm resides in the Profile section. In this way, you can keep different settings together for different scenarios. I’ve got a profile of alarms that wake me up and alarms for just alerts. For each profile, you have a range of options for sounds, including ringtones, any music file, auto-playlists by genre or artist, M3u playlists, or just vibrate. You can also set the snooze time, fade in, and duration of alarms. The duration is how long the alarm will play before it snoozes automatically–great for lazy folks like me. You can also set the display brightness and even have a “rising sun” effect that fades the screen in with the alarm. If you’re worried about sleeping through, you can set a “safe alarm” that rings (incredibly loud) after your first alarm if you don’t hit snooze. For a feature lover like me, this plethora is great. But it can be overwhelming—and the relentless tip screens that pop up everywhere don’t help. If you get annoyed with those, just make sure you hit “don’t show again” and they’ll go away.

SpeedX 3D Review

SpeedX 3D Review

Sep 22, 2010

If you ever find yourself in a rocket ship, blasting through tunnels in some strange space dimension, you’ll have wished you played Speed X 3D on your long bus commutes.

Speed X 3D is a game that rockets you down a tunnel at 1000mph as colored blocks shoot toward you. By tilting your phone left or right, you control your rocket/motorcycle/jetpack to avoid the obstacles. By running over certain blocks, you can gain extra lives, and more.

The graphics of this game were pretty impressive. The tunnel that you are riding in at times will suddenly open up and become a flat plain and then later curve into a ball. Colored cubes rocket toward you, plasma balls blast around you, and more eye candy will entertain you – as you drip sweat off your nose. You’ll be sweating, because this game is hard. Impossibly hard. Have you ever been to a mall, and seen a kid with way too much time on his hands, playing “dance dance revolution?” This game reminded me of that, on the expert level. It’s so fast paced, that the “online leader board” won’t mean anything to you, because the scores you get will be so laughably minuscule, they won’t even post. Hindering your high scores are the occasion warnings like “blackout mode in 2 seconds!” that completely blacks the colors out, so you can’t see them coming. Good luck surviving that one.

Comedian Mitch Headberg once said, “As a comedian, you have to start the show strong and you have to end the show strong. Those are the two key elements. You can’t be like pancakes. You’re all happy at first, but then by the end, you’re sick of ‘em.”

This game is a stack of pancakes. The graphics will wow you to begin with, but after a few minutes you’ll be frustrated, and have a headache. Plus, the music is so hideously annoying, you’ll shut that off by the end of the first round.

Speed X 3D is a great proof-of-concept, and the graphics are impressive, but the fun of it is short lived.